Hajj expenses likely to rise under govt scheme

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Haj expenditures under the government scheme are likely to increase by Rs55,000 due to various reasons including surge in overall prices and fluctuation in the dollar-rupee parity.

For Hajj 2018, the Government Hajj Scheme package was Rs270,000, which is likely to remain between Rs340,000 and Rs350,000 for Hajj 2019, Associated Press of Pakistan official quoted sources as saying.

The source said that the ministry had already asked Saudi authorities to increase Pakistan’s Hajj quota from 20,000 to 30,000.

Meanwhile, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri said on Tuesday that the government was contemplating to present a five-year Hajj policy this year to help overcome problem of delay in implementation.

Speaking at a Hajj Conference 2019 ‘Training and Guidance to Hujjaj’ organised by the Hajj Organisers of Pakistan (HOAP), the minister said the Hajj policy announced every year caused delay in implementation due to a variety of reasons.

He said the ministry intended to hire buildings for three years if the rules of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority allowed. He said he would strive to make Hajj of 2019 the best-ever.

Haq had already asked the ministry officials to compare their Hajj packages with Indonesia, India, Nigeria and Bangladesh, and adopt positive aspects of their Hajj policies.

He expressed the hope that the 2,000 riyal fee imposed on performing Umrah more than once in a year would be waived off for the Pakistani pilgrims.

He asked the Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) to ensure excellent services to their clients. The complaints about the hired building being located far from Hijaz-e-Muqaddas and not fulfilling other commitments should be addressed, he added.

Earlier, HOAP Chairman Naveed Iqbal Butt assured HGOs’ cooperation to the ministry for providing maximum facilities to the pilgrims. He said the HOAP should be taken on board while making Hajj policy.

Proper training of pilgrims should be ensured before their departure for Hajj, and the policy of first-come first-served should be continued, Butt stressed.

Meanwhile, chairing a ministry meeting, Haq directed the officials to ensure best possible facilities to pilgrims in the new Hajj policy. He said the policy would be further improved.

The minister also said that open sky policy would be tried next year to fly pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and bring them back home to avoid Shaheen Air-like experience during Hajj 2018. He said efforts were underway to ensure immigration of Haj pilgrims in Pakistan to save their time in Saudi Arabia.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mian Muhammad Mushtaq Ahmed, Director General Hajj Dr Sajid Yousfani and the directors of all departments in the ministry.

Yousfani briefed the meeting about the arrangements of Hajj 2018. This year, 120 pilgrims died during Haj while 15 children were born, he said.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1832593/1-hajj-expenses-likely-rise-govt-scheme/